Jury System Improvements

I was listening to “This American Life” the other day and heard a story of how this person had defended himself in court and won even though by all accounts he shouldn’t have. The reason, the prosecutor said, was that the defendant had a huge amount of time in front of the jury and was doing a ton of objectionable things (like asking witnesses if they thought he was guilty, alluding to sentencing issues, etc). Why didn’t the prosecutor object? He did, but not as much as he would have liked to since he didn’t want the jury to see him as a bully.

Court in front of a jury is like theater and having spent a lot of time observing and as a juror at one time or another, I have decided that most of a jury trial is about connecting with the common people on the jury. The law hardly matters. Arguments that make perfect logical legal sense mean nothing to a jury if they don’t like the lawyer presenting them. I wouldn’t be surprised if lawyers sometimes bring in writers and directors to coach their presentations.

Another issue is one of sequestration. Juries almost never are sequestered in a hotel like they were in the old days. They are free to go home at night and are instructed not to learn about the case or discuss it. In the age of 24 hour news and google and facebook this is hardly realistic. In a very public case, it’s just plain silly to assume the jury is in the dark about the case outside the courtroom.

Thirdly is the problem of juries in long trials. I think that in long trials, juries become harder and harder to sway. After a while they simply want to be done with it all. So, when they end up in deliberations, it’s usually quick and there is no long discussions a la “12 Angry Men”.

Here’s another issue, bathroom and smoke breaks. A jury is subjected to rigid time rules set by the judge. There is a couple of breaks and a lunch and that’s it. If a juror has to go to the bathroom or wants a cigarette, they sit and wait. How much attention are they paying then?

Lastly is my favorite issue of all “the jury will disregard that statement”. Uh yea. Once something is said, it is out there. I’m sure lawyers on both sides of the aisle utter things out loud all the time in front of juries knowing full well they will be objected to. But the damage has been done already.

So how do we solve this? Glad you asked. It’s simple. We hold the trial normally except with one big change. No jury. The trial is captured on videotape. Once it’s over, it’s edited down so that there are no overruled objections (or no objections at all). There is no spurrious statements, there is no time wasted with sidebars and witnesses being sworn in, etc. The entire trial is packaged onto a DVD and then given to 12 jurors to watch in individual viewing rooms. They can pause to take breaks, and perhaps even rewind if they missed something or want to see it again. They don’t even know who the other jurors are until they finally meet for delberations after viewing.

Anyone else have ideas about this? Please comment or write me.

iPhone slow now

Since the 3.0 upgrade I’ve noticed my iPhone being very slow. I notice it most when I go to my text message screen. It sits there blank for 3-4 seconds now where it used to be instant. Another example? When I listen to the iPod and another sound has to play (like when a text comes in), the playback stutters some. When I type, the correction is slow to occur also.

Another complaint, while I’m here, is that the auto correction seems to be worse now. It used to get what I wanted all the time, now it substitutes useless words more. It’s like they tweaked it some or maybe added more words to the dictionary. I’m not sure, but it sucks now.

Anyone else see these issues?

What did you achieve today?

About a month ago I stopped ‘playing’ this game on Facebook called Mafia Wars. I put the word playing in quotes because there really isn’t much skill involved in the game and all it boils down to is doing some form of work every day and making some small decisions that ultimately don’t matter at all. I played for a while actually, every single day. Since I quit I’ve often wondered why I played it for so long.

I’ve come to the conclusion that I’d formed this habit because I was finding enjoyment in my daily dose of the game. Further, I’ve concluded that the enjoyment came from a little bit of achievement every day. This probably is the core of the WoW addiction many people (including myself) have/had.

Life has become so easy (convenient) for us that I don’t think we get enough satisfaction in achieving things anymore. It used to be a big deal when we did things because they were hard. It was hard to find things (bargains, certain consumer goods, etc). It was hard to communicate (keep in touch with friends, writing needed a dictionary to look things up, etc.). It was hard to travel (had to use maps and directions to get places). Because of this difficulty in our lives, when we did things, we felt a sense of accomplishment. We did things on our own.

So I submit to you my theory that we Americans have it so easy that don’t achieve anything of substance and I think that deficit manifests itself in various ways that we aren’t aware of. We should ponder that for a moment. What ways to do you find yourself unconsciously fulfilling that need?

Vegiwiki

Someone should start a website that people can contribute to that would allow someone to search for food items and it would tell you if they are vegan/vegetarian/gluten free/etc. So you could search for ‘skittles’ for example or maybe something like ‘jello pudding pop’, etc. It should be set up like a wiki where people can add/edit entries freely.

iPhone game Toolkit

Someone needs to build a PC/Mac program that allows people to easily build scripted adventure games for the iPhone. Simple as that.. you don’t need me to expand on this one do you?

GPS Improvements

I was thinking the other days of ways that I’d like to see in car GPS systems improve. Here are my notes :

1) 1 screen, any software : Every car should come equipped with a unit that can use any software. Same for aftermarket units. Why should I have to decide beteween Tom Tom or Garmin or some other system? Why can’t I choose the software I use? This competition will be awesome for the consumer and force the companies to build interfaces that rock!

2) Tourist mode: there should be a mode that you can turn on that will provide you with info as you drive. Sometimes when I’m going somewhere new, along the way I see parks and stuff and I’d love to know about the towns I’m passing through or the near landmarks. “You’re passing through the Shady Vally region which in the 1700’s was home to a pirate tribe. 5 miles south of here is a museam of their history”, etc.

3) Big Screen! I want a big screen that I can scroll with my fingers like an iPhone. I want to be able to see my surroundings and other roads in case I want to detour. You can’t do that now.

4) “Real Map” mode: Instead of the simplified maps I want to be able to overlay a real old fashioned map instead.

virtual iPhone

It would be really nice to organize the layout of my apps on my iPhone using some kind of interface on my computer (perhaps in iTunes). How about a whole virtual iPhone that gives me mouse and text input for my apps, etc.

consume near me

Google, (or Bing) or some new competitor should immediately implement this idea: I want to have a search engine (with map) where I simply enter in a menu item, or other consumable, and the engine tells me where I can buy it near my current location. “where can I buy flip-flops?”, “where can I eat cous-cous?”, etc. Of course they can add ratings and put in ads or whatever, but the key here is that a consumer from their pc (or smart phone) can simply enter in what they want and then get the nearest place to consume it.

This can be done in a number of ways, but my idea is to come up with a standard XML format that vendors can submit. a web GUI could be setup as well for them.

Problems include verification of items so we don’t have a bait and swtich situation. Perhaps they could add user ratings and verification.. the possibilities are endless.

I’m an idea man Chuck!

I was thinking today that lawfirms pay people to bring them business. In the corporate world money can be made from innovation and that comes from good ideas. Why don’t more companies hire people simply to sit in their office and come up with new ideas all day? Brainstormers? I admit it may be hard to quantify the work they do but it may be worth it for some big companies to hire one or two people who are simply free to innovate.

Delivery Delay

I need to repost my complaint about UPS (and others) refusing to cater to the residential workers market, and I will, but for now lets just summarize it for you. A lot of people work during the day and it’s not useful or even green to drive all over town attempting to deliver things to people who are not home so delivery services need to add a class of delivery that comes from 6-9 or so. This way you can be home when your package arrives.

With that said, my idea is simple and it can start very small. Open a company (or even start a collective) where you all share an address and you have someone at that address all day to accept deliveries. Then, from 6-9 you re-deliver any packages received that day (or even save money and do deliveries every 2 days). Maybe even offer an email/IM/phone call on receipt and allow people to pick up on their way home.. whatever. The concept is to build a very high quality service layer on top of fedex/ups/usps, etc. especially for people who work at home.

How much extra would you pay to have this service?